The Kaddish has been called an echo of The Book of Job. Job said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
The Kaddish is an expression of faith on the part of the mourner that although he is grief-stricken, he still believes in God, still trusts in the meaning of life. It is the ultimate anti-existentialist statement.
Karen and I will mourn forever. We are riven as day follows night. Our son will always be dead, and a central portion of our lives died with him.
This Shabbos I recite the last Kaddish of the eleven months for Ariel.
I stand in shul, eyes closed, swaying back and forth, chanting the words with—I hope—perfect diction and true feeling. I want the b’racha to go on forever. I want to stretch the words like a giant rubber band and make them reach from earth to heaven.
There are at least another dozen mourners in shul, all with much louder voices than mine, but I hear only one sound. Is this my voice? I see Ariel as he used to be: sitting in shul beside me. Is this my voice? I study the delicate contours of his face. I melt as Ariel’s lips move, savoring each syllable, whispering the sacred Hebrew text. Is this me? I study his long tapering fingers as they turn the pages of the siddur. I lean over and bury my lips in the plush groove of his neck. It is my voice. I am close to the end. It is my son.
I take three steps back and three steps forward. I finish the Kaddish. I open my eyes and discover a dozen men in shul gazing at me. Some have tears in their eyes. Several nod, tacitly acknowledging the finality of the moment. I open my eyes and I see light. I open my eyes and I am swimming through layers of memory. I open my eyes and I see splendor. I open my eyes and I see my son, my son, Ariel.